I didn’t know who Sarmad Tariq was… until he passed away

Published: April 30, 2014

A man with a tattoo below his right ear saying ‘Allah’, Sarmad seemed more like a director or an actor to me at first glance. PHOTO: OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE (https://www.facebook.com/sarmad.tariq)

Can someone you’ve never known, someone whose name you’ve never heard of, inspire you enough to rethink your entire life?

Apparently it can.

It was only a couple of Facebook posts and the news of his death that moved me, leaving me feeling a little broken inside.

When I logged on to Twitter this morning, I found my timeline flooded with people mourning the death of Sarmad Tariq and talking about what a great person he was. Initially, I didn’t care much. I mean, people die all the time. Famous people die too. And everyone sings their praises after they are gone.

There was nothing very interesting about this news.

But after reading a number of tweets, I was intrigued enough to go to his Facebook page.

A man with a tattoo below his right ear saying ‘Allah’ and ‘About me’ description on his page reading,

“Not a saviour, not a leader, not a role model, just a tough act to follow”.

He seemed more like a director or an actor to me at first glance.

Screengrab from Sarmad Tariq’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/sarmad.tariq)

But there was more to him than what I could see from his display picture.

I scrolled down.

The last post on his Facebook page was an open letter to God, pleading Him for a break from his pain. He was severely sick with multiple diseases but he hadn’t seemed to have lost hope.

Screengrab from Sarmad Tariq’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/sarmad.tariq)

After reading a few more of his posts about the stark realities of life and death, I was left shaken inside and also felt guilty for not having known of him before, for finding out about him too late and for never having the chance to have met him.

motivational speaker who was paralysed neck down due to a swimming accident when he was only 15-years-old, Sarmad had travelled the world on his wheelchair, represented the country and most-definitely touched a thousand hearts.

That was more than enough I needed to know about him.

I had not seen any documentaries about him, had never heard him talk and yet, in a matter of minutes, he became the person I wanted to meet just once; someone to draw inspiration from, to find hope to go through this life and to learn to live it to the fullest.

To me, Sarmad seemed like a person who had ‘life’ figured out. He didn’t just know but was constantly aware of the fact that death is imminent. He was prepared for it and wanted to make the most of every single moment of his life.

And he succeeded.

In one of his last posts, he said,

“Do all of us sooner or later realise that we are going to die? Yes. Do all of us eventually realise that we are alive? No. It is tragic but true. So many die without ever knowing that they were alive.”

Screengrab from Sarmad Tariq’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/sarmad.tariq)

Sarmad may have left this world, but he is not ‘dead’. And just like in life, his death is a lesson for all of us on how to live.

Rest in peace, Sarmad Tariq.


Ema Anis

The social media editor for the web desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets as @EmaAnis (twitter.com/EmaAnis)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sami

    Hats off to Sarmad Tariq . Also hats off to Zehra , the wife of Sarmad Tariq who met him and stood by him throughout the tenure of Sarmad’s life.Recommend

  • Rabia Zeeshan

    Watch his tedtalks too.
    He was the most brave , inspiring I knew. The more you get to know him the more you respect him.Recommend

  • Mariyam

    I have only been to one of his seminar. His speech was the most inspiring speech I have ever heard in my life. I was instantly his fan and from that day onward I always wished to meet him again. In fact I wish he was introduced to the whole world, and today is a very sad day because not only did the most inspiring person pass away but that there are many people who won’t ever get to meet him and be as inspired of him and life as I was. May God bless his soul and make his loved ones as strong as he was. AmeenRecommend

  • Samir tariq

    Its indeed a very sad news and a big big loss….i didnt know him personally but due to one interesting incident our paths crossed…months ago i had written an article and sent it here on ET..usually there is never a confusion but due to some issue my name was mixed up with sarmad tariq and my article got published under his name…upon seeing this i wrote to ET blogs desk as well as sarmad informing him…he immediately wrote back informing me that even he had contacted blogs desk to correct the mistake…and even though this was changed in few hours he wrote again apologising as if its his fault…it was such a warm and nice gesture on his part and now i hear that he is gone….may Allah bless his soul..Recommend

  • Soota

    Same here. Feeling guilty of not meeting him even once :(Recommend

  • MHZ

    Oh My God!!
    I had so much respect for this legend!
    How come I never got the news even after being a part of SOL 2010? :(
    This is indeed sad..

    May God rest him in peace.

  • Parvez

    Nice of you to have written that……the fact that despite his massive disability he still went on to motivate others to change for the better is truly amazing.Recommend

  • fze

    RIP Sarmad!Recommend

  • baig

    i came to know about him when he spoke at TED. i read all about him after that. feeling very sad for his demise. The suffering he endured, sabr he did, during his life make me very sure that he will get good award in the akhirat InshaAllah and that is the ultimate gain.

    What he did, the will power this person had is really unmatchable. I was feeling low at this moment due to some personal problem but reading about him instantly changed my attitude to face the world head on and that is the beauty of this man.Recommend

  • mash

    I liked your article. Sadly enough, I myself did not know about him and also got to know about him through a few FB posts and then I found his page. Good tribute!Recommend

  • Bhai_Mian

    Rest in Peace Sarmad Tariq!!! May Allah bless you

    You will always be remembered in my prayers.

    You were an inspirational figure and source of hope for so many people with disability around youRecommend

  • Hamza

    Met this guy in Karachi last year in a conference. Truly an inspiration. And this is not just typing of words, he was really an inspiration in himself, his stories. His perception of life as in the vedios. Anybody who has met him and has spent a few moments with him can surely relate. May Allah grant you Jannah. AmenRecommend

  • MHZ

    He never forgot to mention how his wife stood by him all the way.
    Even through the 2008 earthquake..Recommend

  • Aslam Butt

    Infact he was ‘able’ ‘very able’ …..disabled are those who have powers but don’t do anything to stop terror and zulm in this hapless country…
    May you have Peace Sarmad InshahAllah.Recommend

  • Yasir Siddiqui

    Well done Ema Anis , you just express my and probably most of the people’s feeling about how we were so ignorant and in the dark ..
    Sarmad Tariq was like “mirza ghalib” to me .. may his soul rest in peace and may ALLAH be pleased with him .. amenRecommend

  • sana

    I am going through a phase of life where everyday i asked for help from Allah and it landed in the form of his last post on Facebook. He changed my perspective towards life completely. I have never met him but his death has given me a lesson on how to live.. May you rest in peace!Recommend

  • raj

    Amazing guy.. i feel unlucky and ignorantRecommend

  • http://www.thequalitycheck.com Being Stealth

    Sir Hats off…Recommend

  • Hamza

    Strong lady. Must say !Recommend

  • Shahzad Ashrafi

    hmmmmm.. why do you have to be about to die to figure out life.. how ironic??? sorry but boring..Recommend

  • Another one of those

    the only problem with us is that we do not acknowledge such people when they are alive. The kind of man he was, he deserved so much recognition/praise from our society, but sadly we cannot be bothered, and feel bad when they go. He was a legend in all ways! He could have done so much more had the so-called “able-bodied” people given a little more support.Recommend

  • GM

    huh .it makes me cry .he is Pakistan no words how could u describe a person like him more than an angel i must say ..Recommend

  • Dante

    This is why the concept of voluntary euthanasia exists in this world. However people criticize that concept a lot, even in a liberal nation like America. Sometimes it just takes being in the shoes of a critically ill fellow to realize why some people just want to disappear from this world. They don’t want to experience both the physical pain, and the suffering of their loved ones.Recommend

  • pamaney

    He was always there when Saira Kamran would arrange functions for my special daughters school, The Early Learning Centre (school for special kids, now called Sun Flower Academy). He was so young, I cant imagine that he is dead already. May Allah give him the best in the other world.Recommend

  • NRJ

    Driving by, I saw him twice with his dog and thought this must be a strong person with an interesting story. I wish I knew then who he was. I would have definately stopped to say something. His friends and his wife were lucky to have known him. There is a lot one can learn from people like Sarmad. Respect also goes to his wife. May he rest in peace.Recommend

  • Batool

    Never met him but I wish I could.
    Rest in peace Sarmad Tariq!Recommend

  • Ibraheem Ahmad

    I still remember, going to meet him having an expectation to find my life answers and solutions to my problems and coming out of his room with embarrassment of knowing that i am the cause of most of my life problems. Indeed he is a great loss for the country. I was lucky to have him as a friend, elder brother and mentor for some years. And as he once said: ‘Is it not interesting that how we tell others that we know some famous personality, as if it will increase our own significance as humans in the community’. He was love!Recommend